ypsilanti under siege

Ypsi’s Police Chief, Matt Harshberger (pictured right on what appears to be some kind of carpet remnant), called a community meeting tonight to discuss the recent spike in property crime. What follow are my very quick notes. As I didn’t understand much of what was being said, I’m sure they will prove to be insufficient, but perhaps they’ll serve to get the ball rolling. (I noticed that Steve Pierce was on hand with his trusty video camera, so hopefully there will be something up on his site soon as well.) If you were there, please add your thoughts and/or make corrections.

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  1. mark
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    I forgot to mention it above, but Ronnie said,

  2. Brian R
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth…

    Total assaults in JUL-OCT 2006 are 167, up from 124 during the same timeframe in 2005. [+34.7%]

    Total burglaries in JUL-OCT 2006 are 113, up from 108 during the same timeframe in 2005. [+4.6%]

    Total larcenies from vehicle in JUL-OCT 2006 are 151, up from 97 during the same timeframe in 2005. [+55.7%]

    Total robberies in JUL-OCT 2006 are 27, down from during the same timeframe in 2005. [-18.2%]

    Total stolen vehicles in JUL-OCT 2006 are 33, down from 38 during the same timeframe in 2005. [-13.2%]

  3. kayt
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    City takeover of Kircher properties to convert them into prison “pods?”

    And, am I the only one that thinks Harshberger looks like Marky Mark in a police uniform?

  4. Ted Glass
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    It had not occurred to me, but going to prison might be a very good thing for Kircher’s business. He can set all of his fellow prisoners up with places to stay in Ypsi once they’re released!

  5. ol' e cross
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Societies that lack prison facilities generally find some other means of punishment (e.g., limb lopping, branding…).

    I suggest we give our sticky fingered thieves sticky fingers. We can superglue their hands to their hips for what would have been the length of their confinement.

    They will be free to roam and enjoy the sunshine, but their ability to commit further crimes will be greatly diminished.

  6. ol' e cross
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Societies that lack prison facilities generally find some other means of punishment (e.g., limb lopping, branding…).

    I suggest we give our sticky fingered thieves sticky fingers. We can superglue their hands to their hips for what would have been the length of their confinement.

    They will be free to roam and enjoy the sunshine, but their ability to commit further crimes will be greatly diminished.

  7. Matt
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Word has it that a group is living in the woods north of the River st bridge. Word is they are stealing firewood from the neighborhoods to keep their fire going. I know my stack has had some missing. I now will have to move it all into the fenced area. But god knows what else they are stealing as they roam on their bicycles at night. It looked like bees going in and out of a hive last night when I checked out the area. They really need to be rousted.

    I’m really pissed about the whole thing.

  8. egpenet
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    As a side note … given the habitable condition of his properties, or “lack of habitable condition,” the City is doing its best, as we are doing with all landlords, to set things right. David is not cooperating.

    To the matter at hand …

    Given the facts, letters and calls neeed to be made IMMEDIATELY to the County Commission … demanding 1)that Sheriff Minzey IMMEDIATELY reduce the sentences of those non-violent prisoners who can be tethered or otheriwise released pending their adjudication, 2) that the “outboarding” to Livingston, Lenawee, Jackson and other county facilities be recommenced until such time that a new pod or a new jail is ready for occupancy, and 3) that at the LEAST one or new pods be constructed, or an entirely new, humane and more efficient jail be constructed to meet the “projected” neeeeeeds of this County for the next 20 years. Lockdown means that there are four to a cell and prisoners are also confined to cots in the gym, which is an unsafe condition for prisoners/detainees and guards alike, and there is no outdoor facility or exercise yard. Lockdown means in your cell except for 45 minutes of breakfast, lunch, dinner. Four to a cell for a detaineeeeeee awaiting his/her hearing means inhumane treatment in my book, and a likelihood that they’ll sour at the very least and/or re-offend upon releasee. They may be innocent! But until the courts deal with them, it’s bye-bye birdie.

    I questioned Ronnie about what we are doing in the County to help young men. We give young women with babies lots of money and chances for a new start. Young men get shit.
    The last 12-15 years of Federal, State and County government have made it worse. Don’t talk to me about pulling up on your bootstraps … there is NOTHING for young, poor, lower middle class and poor class men in this country … ZERO.

    The secret to No Child Left Behind is to lock’em up so we don’t see’em no’mo’. It’s happening to white boys like me and fellas with beautiful tans, as well. S’gotta stop!
    I’m not sure evn Ronnie, who is doing quite well, thank you, really, really, really FEELS that this is important enough to get really, really, really MAD about it.

    I see this firsthand in Detroit … here in Ypsi … and elsewhere on the news. Nobody cares. So, down the toilet they go. Throw away the key. Forget it. Chill, brother.
    Makes me puke!

  9. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Where is the local press in all of this? Are they putting any pressure on the Board of Commissioners to find a solution?

  10. egpenet
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    We have NO LOCAL PRESS … haven’t had for years. And when we HAD a local press, it was right wing … and they would accept limb lopping and drawing/quartering. They didn’t give a damn about what people need. Most of those people took their businesses and families out of the city and moved to the townships.

    Ring a bell? Duh?

  11. mark
    Posted November 21, 2006 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Would it be possible to consider, instead of building a pod, just leasing some of the excess capacity of another jail? It sounded last night as though one of the big issues was the variability of what the cost might be. What if we just, for instance, offered to sublet a certain amount of capacity, like 100 beds, from another facility that over anticipated their need? We could staff it with our own people, etc. It couldn

  12. trusty getto
    Posted November 22, 2006 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    1. Not to be a pessimist, but if you examine how revenue-generation proposals failed at both the state and local levels in our election a couple of weeks ago, it appears that the “No Giant Jail” people will have the upper hand on this one. If the issue is to be “framed” to sell to the county or to voters, it’s gonna have to be much easier to communicate and much easier to understand, or it will be dead before it it even gets going.

    2. Having read Brian’s post over on his site, does this explain the abundant supply of prostitutes just south of my neighborhood? Are they being caught and released, much like largemouth bass? Or is the reason for the lower arrest rates is that it’s a waste of time to arrest, as they’ll be back on the street the next day (or later that day) anyhow? I’m presuming the same goes for the Johns, which does not bode well for actually solving this problem any time in the foreseeable future.

  13. Citizen Blogger
    Posted November 22, 2006 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the YPD could start offering arrestees rides to Ann Arbor, Saline, Chelsea, Barton Hills – help build some broad-based support for finding a solution!

  14. Kate
    Posted November 22, 2006 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    It is not the press’ job to put pressure on the commissioners. The press’ job is to inform the citizenry, which will, hopefully, then put pressure on the commissioners.

    As there have been articles in both the Ann Arbor News and the Ypsilanti Courier regarding jail overcrowding — the Courier’s story being on the front page — I’d say the press has done its job. Whether or not the citizenry has chosen to read those stories is another issue. You can lead a horse to water . . .

  15. egpenet
    Posted November 22, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    … but you can’t make him/her write to his/her commissioners.

    Used to be in real newspapers (still true in NYT, Boston Globe, Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Mother Earth, Al Jazeera) that they could really light fires … I mean get people in the streets. THAT’s a PRESS.

    An “article” is not getting the job done.

    Bloggers wield more influence and carry more and better facts, and also get the emotional umpfh into the duty of the freee press than most local rags.

    In fact … it IS the duty of the press to bang and bang and bang until those same citizens “Wacht auf!” as Bach would say.

    Are folks in Saline and Chelsea really aware that even bad people the sheriff’s deputies pick up ANYWHERE in the county (stealing, drunkeness, sex crimes, etc.) are NOT housed, unless violent?

  16. Hillary
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    trusty: yes, the prostitutes are catch and release. In Detroit, they hang around churches. The Reverend calls, the ladies are picked up, they’re out in front of the church again the next day. I’m sure police officers know them all by name. I always wondered how many of the prostitutes on Michigan Avenue were cops, especially the one on the corner of Michigan and Ballad wearing handcuffs in her belt loops.

  17. Brian R
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Someone once started an urban legend that officers in the Ypsilanti Police Department waste our limited police resources dressing up like prostitutes, and then they hang out in front of Abe’s trying to trap Johns. While it’s true there are police dressed up undercover style like Cagney and Lacey used to do, but those officers are from the State Police and County Sheriff. In addition, those organized stings only happen three or four times a year according to our Chief.

    I don’t doubt that you’ve seen undercover officers shaking their respective money makers, but if you are subtlely trying to imply that Ypsilanti’s prostitution problem isn’t as bad as the reputation, then you are mistaken.

    We are having a lot of community meetings involving the increase in property crimes, and that should be a concern, but the number of prostitution arrests from JUL through OCT of this year is 153 while the number of larcenies from vehicle during that same span is 151. Too often we dismiss prostitution as a victimless crime, but it’s not. The dealing and larcenies follow making the residents of the affected neighborhoods the victims.

  18. mark
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    If you could tell us when those stings are going to be, Brian, it would be a great public service.

    And, for what it’s worth, I agree with Brian. Prostitution and other crime go hand in hand. Also, for what it’s worth, as I’ve seen it practiced in Ypsi it’s not a “victimless” crime. I know there’s a trend in popular culture to love the pimp, but in reality they aren’t nearly as lovable as Snoop Dog.

  19. mark
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Maybe we should stop writing about pimps and such until after Thanksgiving is over. It’s making me feel weird.

  20. egpenet
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    If we would decriminalize prostitution and modestly regulate the “sex trade,” we could put the pimps outta business … keep the boys and girls healthy, sober and drug-free.

    Sex for sale could be separated from substance abuse if our prudish American society could chill a bit.

    We don’t have police staffing levels high enough to conduct stings. As Brian said, County and State perform those stings, not to catch prostitutes or even the johns, as such, but to “work the corners” as police say to get “inside” … we make friends, get to know people by name, then get to the higher ups. That takes time and local units don’t have the luxury of working two or three year operations.

    I’ve sometimes recommended that Ypsilanti City and Township work out a red light district on East Michigan, moving DejaVu out with the other joint and get the girls to move out that way … and just monitor the activity … freeing us in the center of town for even having to deal with it.

    It’d be nice if the Ave Maria “poster boys” would take their fetuses out there, too.

  21. Brian R
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Not to make this a pissing match between neighborhoods, but with all due respect to the RNA, the vast majority of all prostitution arrests in Ypsilanti are alredy on East Michigan Avenue in the Miles Street neighborhood. 72 out of 153 total arrests were there with only 10 of those 153 coming in the RNA.

    Regulating the sex trade is a novel idea, but I have my doubts as to whether many of these women would take the time to be regulated in order to legally give ten dollar blow jobs.

  22. egpenet
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Let them raise their prices … and boost the “quality” of their services. Regulation or deregulation will ineveitably lead to increase variety, quality, safety and competitive improvements … sans pimps.

    Neighbors on the East Side should put a little pressure on Your Motel to improve its facilities. But once decriminalized and regulated everything about prostitution will change … no more cheap and crummy … and we’ll likely see a whole new class of services available.

    Now THERE’S an idea for boosting tourism in Ypsi! No nned to venture into Wayne County or catch a ticket to Vegas. Folks can buy Lotto Pull Tabs and have safe sex right here in Ypsi. And the City (tax) gets a … “slice” … of the action.

  23. egpenet
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Laugh, if you will … but Nevada and Amsterdam (or “Hamsterdam”, if you’re a “The Wire” TV fan … WORKS. Health screening, HIV testing, anti-virals and lots of advertising … keep the Dutch in Bols. We could make more money taxing safe sex and regulating the “sin trade” in a red light district than we could with the stupid income tax idea … and the spin-off bar and food trade would be a bonus. And the pimps would be out of business … which would help take the edge off of drug trade and spin-off violence. Think of it as Indie-Sex, maybe that would get people excited. (Nah. that’s what most people do, anyway, for free. Oh, well.)

  24. Hillary
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Brian: I wasn’t implying anything. As I said, I’ve always wondered. If more johns knew that there is a fair chance that the prostitutes on Michigan Avenue are cops, wouldn’t they be less likely to go there? How many of the 153 arrested were prostitutes, and how many were johns? Were they arrested by the sheriff, the county, or Ypsilanti police? How many different prostitutes were arrested? Why hasn’t anything been done about the hotel?

    I just read your latest entry, and I see they’ve been hanging out at churches in Ypsi too. What is it about churches? Prostitutes here are afraid of the Hamtramck police, so they work across the street from Hamtramck in Detroit.

    I have been serving on a steering committee formed for the purpose of applying for a law enforcement grant since April. The grant committee is helping to form neighborhood watches and block clubs. There are constant meetings about the increasing property crime. At least one police officer attends every meeting. We have a giant jail, but the prosecutor’s office and the police departments are still overloaded. (Over 650 cars were reported stolen in Hamtramck last year.)

  25. Lance
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    What Hotel in Ypsilanti?? Are you referring to the one on Michigan ave next to the Citgo?? Also Those undercover ypsi police women must be butt ugly if they can pass as an Ypsi prostitute-I mean come on 99% of those women look absolutely horrible. You would think that a police women would stick out like sore thumb amongst the skinny beat up drug addicts RIGHT??.

  26. Dr. Cherry
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The hotel in question is in the Township, not sure what they’re calling nowadays. It’s on Michigan just east of the city limits.

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